History : BMC, BL, Rover and other development codes

Mike Lewis, Bache, King, Bashford and SD1 (arms folded as if it was a cold day?), 'Midlanders of the Year' in 1976

Ever wondered what all those ADO, YDO and LC numbers mean when we’re discussing the history of BMC, BL and Rover cars? Worry not, because our exhaustive list of development codes should help you work out what’s what.

The XC Development Codes

The XC numbers (signifying ‘eXperimental Car’) were applied to projects headed up by Alec Issigonis at Longbridge. These cars (with the exception of XC9000) all went on to be developed into production cars.

Code Details Dates Picture
XC9000 1.5 litre saloon
Forerunner to the XC9001 – rear-wheel-drive saloon, resembled a Citroën due to its elongated wheelbase.
Dev: 1956-1957 BMC XC 9000
XC9001 1.5 litre saloon
Initially a front-wheel-drive XC9000, but restyled by Longbridge and Pininfarina. Renamed XC9005 in 1960.
Dev: 1958-1960 BMC XC9001
XC9002 BMC 1100/1300
Initially a scaled down XC9001, but later restyled by Pininfarina. Became known as ADO16 from around July 1959.
Dev: 1957-1959 BMC XC 9002
XC9003 BMC Mini
Also known as the ADO15.
Dev: 1957-1959 BMC XC 9003
XC9005 BMC 1800/2200
XC9001 refined in style and re-engined with the 1.8-litre version of the B-Series engine. Became known as ADO17 from 1960.
Dev: 1960-1962 BMC XC9005

The ADO Development Codes

After the merger between Austin and Morris in 1952, all subsequent new cars in development were given ADO project numbers. ADO stood for ‘Austin Drawing Office’ – the fact that they referred to an Austin and not a Morris Drawing Office gives some clue as to where the loyalties of BMC chief Leonard Lord lay.

Following this list (based on material supplied by the Archive Department at the British Motor Museum) can be confusing because the project numbers were not always in numerical order. In some instances, this muddled system made sense (ADO15, 16 and 17, for instance), whereas at other times, it obviously did not.

Look, for example, at ADO77, 88 and 99: ADO77 seems logical enough, as it follows ADO73, 74, 75 and 76, but following that comes ADO88, which was cited by Charles Griffin as being so called because of its 88-inch wheelbase. Following that came the ADO99, which again, possessed a 99-inch wheelbase. Was this pattern coincidence or was it chosen because of its nice, cascading numerical pattern?

Code Details Dates Picture
ADO6 Austin Hire Car and Taxi
FL2, FL2D, FX4, FX4D – better known as the London ‘Black Cab’.
Dev: 1956-1959
Prod: 1959-1971
ADO8 Austin A40 Farina
MkI: BMC’s smart new baby, styled by Pininfarina.
Dev: 1956-1958
Prod: 1958-1961
Austin A40 Farina Mk1
ADO9 Farina ‘B’ models
B-Series-engined Farinas:
Austin A55 Cambridge MkII (ADO9A), Morris Oxford Series V (ADO9M), MG Magnette MkIII (ADO9G), Riley 4/68 (ADO9R), Wolseley 15/60 (ADO9W).
Dev: 1956-1958
Prod: 1958-1961
The Austin A55. This should have been BMCs only Pininfarina saloon. And it looks so much neater than the A60
ADO10 Farina ‘C’ models
C-Series-engined Farinas:
Austin A99 Westminster and Wolseley 6/99.
Dev: 1956-1959
Prod: 1959-1961
ADO11 Experimental A-Series engine
Two-cylinder power unit with 475cc based on the 948cc A-Series, as documented by Jon Presnell in his book Mini: The Definitive History.
Dev: 1956-1958
ADO12 Hydrostatic transmission
As installed in an Austin A35 prototype.
Dev: Mid-1950s
ADO13 Austin Healey Sprite
MkI – otherwise known as the ‘Frogeye’ Sprite.
Dev: 1956-1958
Prod: 1958-1961
ADO14 Austin Maxi Dev: 1964-1969
Prod: 1969-1981
Full-engineered Austin Maxi ADO14 prototype from 1966.
ADO15 BMC Mini
MkI and MkII (originally codenamed XC9003) – includes Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf, but not the Cooper versions (ADO50).
Dev: 1957-1959
Prod: 1959-1969
ADO16 BMC 1100/1300
Originally codenamed XC9002 – includes all badge-engineered varieties.
Dev: 1957-1962
Prod: 1962-1974
ADO17 BMC 1800/2200
Originally codenamed XC9005 – includes all badge-engineered varieties.
Dev: 1958-1964
Prod: 1964-1975
ADO19 Austin Ant
Prototype off-roader, cancelled by Leyland so as not to interfere with Land Rover sales.
Dev: 1967-1968 Austin Ant
ADO20 Mini MkIII and Clubman
Significant revisions to bodyshell, including slightly larger doors with concealed hinges and wind-up windows; also marked a return to rubber-cone suspension. Clubman and 1275GT lasted until 1980.
Dev: 1968-1969
Prod: 1969-2000
1968 Mini Clubman proposal
ADO21 MGB replacement
Mid-engined sports car, styled by Harris Mann/Paul Hughes and powered by the E4 engine. Dropped in favour of the TR7.
Dev: 1969-1970 The BMC Board Files: ADO21
ADO22 Facelift and re-engineering of ADO16
Major redesign of ADO16, incorporating revised suspension and under-structure and revised bodywork. Cancelled by British Leyland, in favour of ADO67.
Dev: 1967-1968 Austin ADO22 project was intended to bring the 1100/1300 into the 1970s
ADO23 MGB Dev: 1958-1962
Prod: 1962-1974
The cars : MGB development history
ADO24 Austin Healey 4000
4.0-litre version of the Austin Healey 3000, cancelled by British Leyland.
Dev: 1966-1968
ADO25 E6 engine
6-cylinder E-Series power unit, as used in ADO17 (and its derivatives), Antipodean Marinas and ADO71.
Dev: 1965-1972
Prod: 1972-1982
ADO26 Austin Healey 3000 MKIII Dev: 1961-1963
Prod: 1963-1968
ADO27 Austin and Morris 1800 Facelift
This appears to have started out as a major facelift of ADO17, but the project was cancelled at an early stage. Code was passed on to the X6 project (codenamed YDO19 in Australia).
Dev: 1968-1970
Prod: 1970-1975
Riley 1.5/Wolseley 1500 facelift
The earlier of two recorded ADO27 projects, this would have seen these Morris Minor-based cars treated to Farina-style rear fins, perhaps not unlike those of the Australian Morris Major Elite (pictured is a Series II Lancer/Major), which was itself based on these cars.
Dev: Early 1960s Morris Major Elite
ADO28 Morris Marina
Using A- and B-Series engines.
Dev: 1968-1971
Prod: 1971-1980
Morris Marina (ADO28)
ADO30 Austin Healey replacement
Project was vetoed by Sir William Lyons as it would have competed with the Jaguar E-type.
Dev: 1966 BMC ADO30
ADO31 MGA 1600 Dev: 1958-1959
Prod: 1959-1961
ADO32 E4-series engine
Four-cylinder OHC E-Series engine, as used in the Maxi and Allegro, and also in the Australian Morris 1500.
Dev: 1965-1969
Prod: 1969-1981
ADO34 Mini-based MG roadster
There were at least two distinct ADO34 prototypes: a ‘Longbridge’ car, designed and built by Pininfarina (pictured) and an ‘Abingdon’ car, produced in-house at the MG factory.
Dev: 1960-1964 BMC ADO34
ADO35 Coupé version of ADO34
The car pictured is understood to be a development of the ‘Longbridge’ ADO34 (see above).
Dev: 1960-1964 BMC ADO35
ADO36 Austin Healey versions of ADO34 and ADO35
The car pictured is based on the ‘Abingdon’ ADO34, and differs from it only in respect of its grille and badge.
Dev: 1960-1964
ADO37 Princess 3-litre
Based on the Austin A99 Westminster, as a replacement for the Austin A105 Vanden Plas. It was marketed as the Vanden Plas Princess 3-litre from 1960 onwards.
Dev: 1959
Prod: 1959-1968
ADO38 Revised Farina ‘B’ models
Austin A60 Cambridge, Morris Oxford Series VI, MG Magnette MkIV, Riley 4/72, Wolseley 16/60.
Dev: 1960-1961
Prod: 1961-1971
ADO39 Taxi
FX4 replacement, cancelled by British Leyland.
Dev: 1967
ADO40 Austin Freeway and Wolseley 24/80 Mk I
Produced in Australia and fitted with B-Series six-cylinder engine…
Prod: 1962-1964 BMC ADO40
ADO41 Austin Freeway Utility
Prototype still exists in Australia.
ADO42 Austin Healey Sprite MkII
Re-bodied version of the MkI Sprite.
Dev: 1960-1961
Prod: 1961-1964
ADO44 Austin A40 Farina
Dev: 1960-1961
Prod: 1961-1967
ADO46 Farina ‘B’ diesels
Only the Austin A60 Cambridge and Morris Oxford versions were offered in diesel form. Originally for export only, they became available in the UK from 1962. The diesel Cambridge was withdrawn in 1968.
Dev: 1961
Prod: 1961-1971
ADO47 MG Midget
MkI – Badge-engineered version of ADO41.
Dev: 1961
Prod: 1961-1964
ADO49 Farina ‘B’ Pickup
Pick-up truck based on Riley version of ADO9/ADO38; built and sold in Argentina.
Prod: Early 1960s BMC ADO49
ADO50 Mini Cooper and Cooper S (ADO50S)
997 and 998cc – and 970, 1071 and 1275cc (ADO50S).
Dev: 1961
Prod: 1961-1971
Mini Cooper KEL 236
ADO51 Austin Healey 3000 MkIV
This was to have been a badge-engineered version of the MGC, but was cancelled at Donald Healey’s insistence.
Dev: 1962-1965
ADO52 MGC Dev: 1961-1967
Prod: 1967-1969
It was during January 1969 that the British Leyland Product Policy Committee met and decided to end MGC production in the summer.
ADO53 Revised ADO10
Became the Austin A110 Westminster and Wolseley 6/110.
Dev: 1961
Prod: 1961-1968
ADO56 MG Sport
This Mini-based coupé proposal was conceived by Alec Issigonis, and featured front-wheel drive and a transverse Mini-Cooper engine. It apparently came very close to entering production.
Dev: 1958-1959 BMC ADO56
ADO58 Joint BMC/Rolls-Royce coupé project
To have been based on a short-wheelbase version of Bentley Burma (pictured), the forerunner to the 1965 T1. The car would have been built and marketed exclusively by BMC, using the F60 six-cylinder engine, but it never reached production.
Dev: Early 1960s BMC ADO58
ADO59 Morris Minor 1000 (1.1-litre)
1098cc A-Series powered Morris Minor.
Dev: 1962
Prod: 1962-1971
Morris Minor
ADO61 Austin 3 Litre
Replacement for ADO53.
Dev: 1962-1967
Prod: 1967-1971
Austin 3 Litre - Geneva 1968
ADO66 Vanden Plas 4-Litre R Dev: 1964
Prod: 1964-1968
Vanden Plas Princess 4-Litre R (1)
ADO67 Austin Allegro Dev: 1968-1973
Prod: 1973-1982
The BMC Board files - Austin Allegro styling signed off early
ADO68 Project Condor
A very stylish Roy Haynes-styled 2-door coupé version of the Marina.
Dev: 1969-1970
Late in 1969, the Italian designer Michelotti was commissioned to produce a version of Condor. His proposal was then amended in-house at BLMC to become ADO68/28-2, which hints at the shape of the two-door Marina.
Dev: 1969-1970 ADO68
This version of Condor, designed by Harris Mann, was based on the Maxi. It’s not hard to think of this design as the starting point for ADO71.
Dev: 1969-1970 ADO60/14
The other Condor proposal was all-too-obviously based on the Allegro. Like the other Condor prototypes, this car met with its fate when Brtish Leyland cancelled the project.
Dev: 1969-1970
ADO69 Taxi
Replacement for FX4 – cancelled.
Dev: 1970
ADO70 Michelotti Mini Calypso
Michelotti-styled coupé model, based on ADO20.
Dev: 1970 ADO70 Calypso
ADO71 18-22 Series/Princess
Replacement for ADO17.
Dev: 1970-1975
Prod: 1975-1982
ADO73 Marina 2/Morris Ital
Originally intended as a front-end facelift, but became the O-Series version. Ital was known as ADO73 F/L.
Dev: 1972-1978
Prod: 1978-1984
ADO74 Ant/Dragonfly/Ladybird
Supermini project, powered by the H/K-Series engine, shelved by John Barber in 1974.
Dev: 1972-1973 ADO74
ADO75 MGB GT V8 Dev: 1971-1972
Prod: 1972-1974
MGB GT V8 - launched amid a fuel crisis
ADO76 Revised MGBs
Replacement MGB – based on a Michelotti-styled base.
Dev: 1968-1969
and 1972-1974
Prod: 1974-1980
ADO77 New Marina
RWD Ford Cortina rival, ‘merged’ with the SD2 project – and then became TM-1.
Dev: 1972-1975 ADO77
ADO88 Supermini
Metro predecessor, cancelled due to unfavourable results from customer clinics. Re-engineered to become LC8 (Austin Metro).
Dev: 1974-1978 This early sketch, dating from 1974, clearly shows that ADO88 started out as a Mini replacement. While looking more adventurous than ADO74, the principle of “maximum interior room – minimum external size” was eloquently demonstrated in the car’s boxy lines
ADO99 Family hatchback
Replacement for Allegro, after internal re-organisation and the death of TM-1. Became the LC10/LM10 (Austin Maestro). Project instigated by Spen King.
Dev: 1975-1977 ADO99

YDO Development Codes

BMC Australia had trodden their own evolutionary path, once left to run with the BMC range of cars, and from 1962 the Antipodean subsidiary decided to use their own code numbers to denote development of cars specific to them.

Code Details Dates Picture
YDO1 Morris Major Elite
First production type.
April 1962-1963
YDO2 Morris Major Elite
Prototype of YDO1 with raised turret to improve rear seat headroom – not produced.
YDO3 Austin Freeway MkII/Wolseley 24/80 MkII
Based upon Farina-style YDO9 vehicles and fitted with 2433cc B-Series six-cylinder engine (unique to Austin). Produced in Austin and Wolseley sedan form, and Austin Station Wagon version…
August 1964-1965
YDO4 Mini (Morris only)
Standard version with Australian wind-up windows, 848cc engine and rubber cone suspension.
YDO5 Mini Deluxe (Morris only)
…with Australian wind-up windows, 998cc engine and Hydrolastic suspension.
Also includes the Morris Mini K with with 1098cc engine.
1969-71 (K models)
YDO6 Mini Cooper S (Morris only)
…with Australian wind-up windows, 1275cc and Hydrolastic suspension.
YDO7 Morris Mini Moke
…with 10″ wheels.
YDO9 Morris Nomad
ADO16 style five-door hatchback designed at Longbridge in conjunction with Australian Engineers. Fitted with E-Series 1500cc engine with manual gearbox or A-Series 1275cc engine with automatic transmission.
1969-1971 YDO9 Morris Nomad prototype
YDO10 Austin 1800 Mk1 and Mk2 Utility and Cab/Chassis models
Proposed pick-up version of BMC ADO17 models.
YDO13 Austin X6 Tasman/Kimberley Mk1
Saloon version of the ADO17 powered by an E6-Series engine.
Austin Kimberley
YDO14 Austin X6 Tasman/Kimberley Ute
Proposed pick-up version of Austin X6 cars (number not used, or not proceeded with).
YDO15 Morris 1500 and 1300 sedan
Similar to British 1300s and fitted with E-Series 1500cc manual or 1275cc automatic.
YDO18 Mini Moke (Morris and Leyland versions)
Update of YDO7 to 13″ wheels and initially fitted with 1098 and 1275cc engines. Last units were 998cc to achieve emissions requirements.
YDO19 Austin Tasman/Kimberley Mk2
Further update of ADO17 with E-Series six-cylinder in single- (Tasman) or twin-carb (Kimberley) forms.
Nov 1970-Jun 1971
YDO21 Mini Clubman
Australian standard version. 998cc and rubber cone suspension. Initially marketed as a Morris, then a Leyland…
YDO22 Mini Clubman Super
Australian deluxe-type version. 998 and 1098cc. Initially Hydrolastic suspension,
reverting to rubber cone later.
1971-73 (Deluxe)
1973-78 (S)
YDO23 Mini Clubman GT
Australian version, 1275cc engine.
YDO24 Morris Marina/Leyland Marina
Sedan (four-door) and TC Coupe (two-door). Australian version using E-Series 1500 and 1750cc engines.
1972-1975 Leyland Marina, South African style. Marque confusion?
YDO25 Leyland Marina
Six-cylinder versions using the 2.6-litre E-Series engine.

It is rumoured that YDO26, 27 and 28 were allocated to the P76 sedan, station wagon and Force 7 coupe respectively, but were not proceeded with as Lord Stokes decided on the P76 code name.

Based on information compiled by Peter A Jones, Roger Foy and Tony Dingle.

LC and LM Development Codes

To signify the new direction the company was heading following the Ryder Report in March 1975, the single and integrated Leyland Cars division changed the way of identifying upcoming new car projects. This new system was implemented to replace the ADO system employed by Austin-Morris, as well as the fractious and none-too established naming employed by the Specialist Division.

The LC prefix stood for Leyland Cars, while LM referred to Light Medium. The Light Medium division came about due to a marketing reshuffle at BL in the autumn of 1979, when the Specialist Division was disbanded. The Light Medium division did not last long, being replaced by Austin Rover in 1980.

The LM codes changed on a fairly regular basis, as the business and the company’s relationship with Honda changed, but this list represents those projects actively pursued by Austin Rover.

LC Development Codes

Code Details Dates Picture
LC8 Austin Metro
Picked up the pieces of the ADO88 project, employing that cars understructure, engines and suspension. LC8 signified a smarter body style.
Dev: 1978-1980
Prod: 1980-1991
LC9 Triumph Acclaim
Also known as Project Bounty by BL.
Dev: 1979-1981
Prod: 1981-1984
The Acclaim has a strange legacy – final Triumph or proof that the UK could build reliable dependable cars, depending on your point of view.
LC10 Austin Maestro
Signified the BL phase of the mid-sized car development programme, formerly known as ADO99 (and renamed thus to break links with the ADO naming scheme). Also covered a saloon version (which was sometimes referred to as the AM2X), and which eventually became the Austin Montego (LM11).
Dev: 1977-1980
LC12 Coupé Dev: 1978-1980
LC40 Jaguar saloon
Jaguar’s XJ40 renamed in 1977 to tie in with the rest of the single integrated Leyland line-up. Codename only briefly used, reverting to XJ40 in 1978.
Dev: 1972-1986
Prod: 1986-1994

LM Development Codes

Code Details Dates Picture
LM10 Austin Maestro
Final development name for this car – in this period, the rear suspension was altered.
Dev: 1980-1982
Prod: 1982-1994
LM11 Austin Montego Dev: 1980-1983
Prod: 1983-1994
LM12 Coupé
2-door coupé based on the LM11 floorpan – intended to be badged as an MG and replace all MGs and TRs.
Dev: 1980-1981
LM14 Five-door hatchback
Hatchback rear end for the Montego – similar in execution to the contemporary Talbot Alpine, VW Passat. This was to have been a more upmarket car than the Montego, with no 1300cc version.
Dev: 1980-1981 LM15
LM15 Executive car
Rebodied SD1; dropped by management on the advice of Roy Axe in favour of the Rover-Honda XX.
Dev: 1980-1981
LM19 Austin Ambassador
Rebodied ADO71.
Dev: 1978-1981
Prod: 1981-1984
LM19 Austin Ambassador styling sketch by Roger Tucker

According to different BL/Austin Rover corporate plans, there were also references made to the LM16 and LM17. LM16 was referred to variously as an open-topped version of the LM12 or a hatchback version of LM15. LM17 and LM15 were other codes used in reference to an executive class car, but the re-bodied SD-1 LM15 project was actually seriously evaluated.

Honda/Rover Development Codes

Unlike the long-running ADO series and the politically sensitive LM series, the more recent development codes never seemed to catch the public’s imagination in quite the same way.


Code Details Dates Picture
HD9 Medium hatchback
Five-door version of the Honda Ballade/Triumph Acclaim – probably a Triumph-badged version of the Honda Quintet. A version of HD9 was marketed in Australia as the Rover Quintet.
Dev: 1981
HD14 Small hatchback
Sub-Metro sized car, probably a version of the Honda City/Jazz.
Dev: 1980-1981
HD17 Executive car
The initial internal name for the Honda-Rover large car to replace the SD1-based LM15 project. Was renamed XX in 1982.
Dev: 1981
XX Rover 800
First Honda/Rover collaborative car – became the Rover 800. LWB and CCV versions were developed, but not produced.
Dev: 1982-1986
Prod: 1986-1991
Rover 800 in the wind tunnel
HX Honda Legend
Honda version of the XX – became the Honda Legend.
Dev: 1982-1985
Prod: 1985-1990
YY Rover 214/216
Early part of the Rover 200 development programme, renamed AR8 in 1986.
Dev: 1985-1986
HY Honda Concerto
Honda version of YY.
Dev: 1985-1988
AR5 Rover 213/216 replacement
Scheduled for a 1989 launch, but was cancelled in favour of the Honda-based AR8 (see below), which served as a replacement for both the Maestro and Rover 213/216.
Dev: 1984-1985
AR6 Metro replacement
All-new supermini styled by Gerry McGovern and others under the leadership of Roy Axe, incorporating K-Series engine and steel suspension. Abandoned when it became clear that there were not enough company funds to finance its development. Replaced by the R6 (see below).
Dev: 1984-1986 Austin AR6
AR7 Maestro replacement
Engineered in-house and scheduled for a 1990 launch, this car was cancelled in 1985 in favour of the Honda-based AR8 (see below).
Dev: 1984-1985
AR8 Rover 214/216
Renamed version of the YY. Renamed R8 in 1988.
Dev: 1986-1988
AR9 Roverised Montego
Thought to be a rebodied, Roverised version of the Montego, using the M16 power unit, though the existence of this project has yet to be confirmed.
AR16 Sub-800 four-door saloon
Counterpart to the 5-door AR17, both of which were based on a shortened XX (Rover 800) platform.
Dev: 1984-1985 AR16/17 was designed to slot in below the Rover 800, replacing the Austin Montego. The saloon (above) was known as AR17, and the fastback, the AR16…
AR17 Sub-800 five-door hatchback
Counterpart to the 4-door AR16, both of which were based on a shortened XX (Rover 800) platform.
Dev: 1984-1985 AR16 hatchback would have provided stiff opposition to the Sierra and Cavalier at its 1988 launch date
SK1 Rover 600
Honda-engined models.
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1998
SK2 Rover 600
Rover-engined models.
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1998
SK3 Metro replacement
Honda-developed hatchback – developed specifically for Rover and would not have had a Honda-badged counterpart; cancelled in favour of Project R3 (see below).
Dev: 1989-1991 R3 Rover 200 Engineering Team 001__ (2)
HH-R Rover 400/45
Also known as Project Theta. The mid-term facelift which produced the 45 was called Project Oyster. See also X20, below.
NB: Development dates refer to the Honda Domani, the Japanese market-only saloon that the Rover 400/Concerto was based on.
Dev: 1990-1995
Prod: 1995-2005
Rover 400
Range Rover Mk2
Initially known as Pegasus until details were leaked, the Mk2 was so-called because the development programme was conflated from the fact it was initially known as Mustang (P51) at MGA development, then transferred to Block 38 in Solihull.
Dev: 1988-1994
Prod: 1994-2001
Range Rover P38a
CB40 Land Rover Freelander
This started out as the Rover Pathfinder and Oden project before morphing into CB40 – so called because it was developed in Canley Building 40.
Dev: 1992-1997
Prod: 1997-2008
The cars : Land Rover Freelander

Rover/MG Rover Development Codes

Code Details Dates Picture
R3 Rover 200/25
Intended Metro replacement (originally codenamed SK3) based on a shortened R8 platform. Was taken upmarket into the Escort market by George Simpson. The mid-term facelift which produced the 25 was called Project Jewel. See also X30, below.
Dev: 1991-1995
Prod: 1995-2005
Rover 200 (R3) full-sized clay
R6 Rover Metro/100 series
Heavily revised Austin Metro, incorporating K-Series engine, PSA-derived R65 gearbox and front/rear interconnected Hydragas suspension.
Dev: 1986-1989Prod: 1990-1997
R6X Rover Metro/100 series – alternative body
New styling proposal for the R6, as designed by David Saddington – would have used no carryover parts for the exterior.
Dev: 1987
Prod: N/A
R7 Small hatchback
Shortened R8 platform would have been used as a basis for this small hatchback. Styling theme established by R6X was carried over.
Dev: 1988
Prod: N/A
R8 Rover 214/216
Renamed version of AR8; the R8 code was used from the end of 1986 right through to the end of the project. The codenames Tex, Tomcat and Tracer were used for the 400 Tourer, 200 Coupe and 200 Cabriolet versions respectively.
Dev: 1986-1989
Prod: 1989-1995
R9 R8-based saloon
This car would have been a larger saloon model than the R8-based 400, sharing only its front door skins. It was dropped in favour of a Roverised version of the Honda Concerto saloon (the car that was eventually launched as the 400). The R9’s role would have been closer to that of the later Rover 600.
Dev: 1986-1987
R17 Rover 800
MkII – Hatchback version.
Dev: 1989-1991
Prod: 1991-1998
R18 Rover 800
MkII –Saloon version.
Dev: 1989-1991
Prod: 1991-1998
R30 Rover 25/45 replacement
Cancelled hatchback, designed using much BMW thinking. Was planned to use the Hams Hall-built NG four-cylinder engines and the joint Chrysler engine used in the MINI. Cancelled when BMW abandoned Rover.
Dev: 1996-1999
R40 Rover 75
Briefly known as RD1 in the early days. See also Core, Isis and X10, below.
Dev: 1993-1998
Prod: 1998-2005
R41 Rover 75 Tourer
Developed with the help of TWR and styled by Ian Callum.
Dev: 1993-1998
Prod: 1998-2005
New Mini
Originally codenamed R59, the R50 designation was adopted in May 1996, when Frank Stephenson’s proposal (itself codenamed E50 2+2) was adopted for the body style. Car was retained and launched by BMW following the split. R53 added as the supercharged Cooper S version.
Dev: 1993-2000 R50 clay model - Frank Stephenson
RD60 Rover 45 replacement
Controversial hatchback and saloon replacement for the Rover 45 range of cars. Styling by Peter Stevens is supposed to echo that of the TCV Concept Car. Chassis/floorpan modified version of Rover 75/MG ZT.
Dev: 2001-2005
X10 MG ZT Dev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2001-2005
X11 MG ZT-T Dev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2001-2005
X12 MG ZT V8 Dev: 2000-2003
Prod: 2003-2005
X20 MG ZS Dev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2001-date
X30 MG ZR Dev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2001-2005
X40 MG TF Dev: 2000-2001
Prod: 2002-2005
X60 MG Version of the RD60
The hatchback based on the Rover 75 floorpan; will contain many TCV styling influences.
Dev: 2001-2005
X80 MG XPower SV
Re-bodied and re-engineered Qvale Mangusta, styled by Peter Stevens and manufactured in Italy.
Dev: 2001-2003

Prod: 2003-2005

SV-R was, in many ways, more than a flight of fancy
X120 MG Midget/Roadster/GT
Trio of new sports cars based on MG TF underpinnings. Designed as the new Midget, Roadster and GT – to sell in the USA.
Dev: 2003-2005 MG Roadster
RD110 CityRover
Rebadged and lightly restyled Tata Indica.
Dev: 2003-2004

Prod: 2004-2005

Rover 45/MG ZS Replacement
MG Rover codename for MG and Rover ranges.
RDX30 Rover 25/MG ZR
MG Rover codename for both ranges.
RDX20 Rover 45/MG ZS
MG Rover codename for both ranges.
RDX10 Rover 75/MG ZT
MG Rover codename for both ranges.

Project Code Names

Codename Details Dates Picture
Adder MG RV8
The project name for the MGB-based roadster which became the MGR V8. The prototype was also known as PR4 (see below).
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1995
Core Rover 75
The initial project name for the car that would become the Rover 75. At this time, it was one of a suite of three large-car projects (the others being Eric and Flagship) based on an all-new Rover platform.
Dev: 1993-1998
Prod: 1998-date
Eric Large avantgarde coupe
The third model in Rover’s initial project mid-1990s large-car programme (along with Core and Flagship), this would have been an executive-class coupe, apparently not unlike the Renault Avantime in concept. Like Flagship (below), it did not progress beyond the fibreglass model stage.
Dev: 1993-1994
Flagship Range-topping model
Part of Rover’s mid-1990s large-car programme (along with Core and Eric), and as the name suggests, this would have been a luxury saloon sitting above the 800 in the range; it was affectionately referred to within the company as Flashpig. Like Eric (above), it did not progress beyond the fibreglass model stage.
Dev: 1993-1994
Isis Rover 75
An old Morris model name, revived to refer to one incarnation of the car that would become the Rover 75. This codename was used between Core and RD1.
Dev: 1993-1998
Prod: 1998-2005
Jewel Rover 25
Facelift of the R3 Rover 200 to bring it into line with Rover’s new 75-inspired family look.
Dev: 1998-1999
Prod: 1999-2005
Oyster Rover 45
Facelift of the HH-R Rover 400 to bring it into line with Rover’s new 75-inspired family look.
Dev: 1998-1999
Prod: 1999-2005
Pathfinder Soft-roader/SUV
Aborted high-bodied multi-purpose vehicle, using the Rover 800 floorpan. Evolved into the CB40 (Land Rover Freelander) project.
Dev: 1989-1992 Rover Pathfinder
Synchro Rover 600
See entries for SK1 and SK2, above.
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1998
Theta Rover 400/45
Alternative name for Project HH-R (above). See also X20.
Dev: 1990-1995
Prod: 1995-date
Tex Rover 400 Tourer
Developed as part of the R8 programme.
Dev: 1988-1992
Prod: 1994-1996
Tourer model was not so much as a capacious hold-all, but a lifestyle estate cast in the mould of the Audi 80 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring
Tomcat Rover 200 Coupe
Developed as part of the R8 programme.
Dev: 1988-1992
Prod: 1993-1999
Rover 220 Coupe
Tracer Rover 200 Cabriolet
Developed as part of the R8 programme.
Dev: 1988-1992
Prod: 1992-1999
Topaz Rover 100 Cabriolet 
Rover Metro/100 open-topped version.
Dev: 1990-1992
Prod: 1992-1999
Rover 100 Cabriolet
Troy Lamm Mini Cabriolet
Rover Mini open-topped version.
Dev: 1990-1992
Prod: 1992-1999

Project Phoenix and the PR/PX Development Codes

Code Details Dates Picture
F-16 MG-F forerunner
Gerry McGovern-styled car with front-engined, front-wheel-drive configuration. This design marks the birth of the MG-F concept, as its shape was used to form the body panels for PR1, PR2 and PR3.
Dev: 1985-1989 MG F16
PR1 MG-F forerunner
The first of three Phoenix prototypes, this car was built in steel by Motor Panels on Maestro underpinnings and used a front-mounted transverse 2.0-litre M16 engine.
Dev: 1989-1990 MG PR1
PR2 MG-F forerunner
The second Phoenix prototype was built by Reliant using the Scimitar SS1 as its basis, and had a Rover 3.9-litre V8 engine.
Dev: 1989-1990 MG PR2
PR3 MG-F forerunner
The third Phoenix prototype, built by ADC. This was the mid-engined design which was successful in being selected to be taken forward as the MG-F.
Dev: 1990 MG PR3
Styling development of original PR3 exercise, produced by ADC in 1991 as part of the process of ‘productionising’ the design.
Dev: 1991
Gerry McGovern sketched this final proposal for the PR3, giving the car much needed character, whilst also doing away with the need for troublesome and aerodynamically inefficient pop-up lights.
Dev: 1991-1995
Prod: 1995-date
MG PR3 - McGovern
This code was assigned to Project Adder, the MGB-based roadster which became the MGR V8 (see Project Adder, above).
Dev: 1989-1993
Prod: 1993-1995
DR2/PR5 Parallel MG-F proposal
This Roy Axe design was altogether bigger than the other PR-series cars but, like PR2, it had a front-mounted V8 and rear-wheel drive. It could potentially have become an Austin-Healey if the marque had been revived.
Dev: 1990 MG DR2-PR5
PX1 Parallel MG-F proposal
A revival of the PR1 project, this car was based on front-engined, front-wheel-drive R17 (Rover 800) underpinnings. Was further developed to become Adventurer-1 (pictured).
Dev: 1991
PX2 Parallel MG-F proposal
Related to PX1, but with a shortened wheelbase and retro-styling. Became Adventurer-2 (pictured).
Dev: 1991

Miscellaneous Codes

Of course, in a company as wide ranging as British Leyland, many, many other projects were given their own names, as it was not until the 1980s that a centralised product design and planning system was set-up.

This page includes the one-off project names, plus some of the code series which existed within the individual companies prior to the various mergers.


Code Details Dates Picture
9X New Mini
Issigonis-designed, OHC-engined hatchback to replace the Mini. 9X incorporated 850, 1000cc three door Mini-replacement hatchbacks and a further, extended 5-door version using 1200 and 1500c six-cylinder versions of the same OHC engine to replace ADO16.
Dev: 1967-87 Issigonis 9X
10X New small family car
Extended 9X that never left the drawing board, designed to replace the ADO16.
Dev: 1967-68
Barrel Car New Mini
Longbridge-produced Mini facelift proposal – this later became known as the Project Ant, which formed an early part of the ADO74 project. Publicised in the Jeff Daniels and Graham Robson books.
Dev: 1968 Barrel car

Rover P Series

Code Details Dates Picture
P1 ‘D-back’ Ten , Twelve and Fourteen saloons
(P1 Ten continued to end of 1937). Open Tourer Twelve and Fourteen models 1934-36
Prod: 1934-36
P2 Phase 1 (1936-40)
New Twelve, Fourteen and Sixteen, more rounded style, enclosed boot, in six-light Saloon and four-light Sports Saloon versions.Phase 2 (1938-40)
New Ten in ‘scaled-down’ P2 Twelve  six-light style plus low-volume Ten 2-door Coupe and Twenty Sports Saloon.Phase 3 (1946-48)
Post-war Ten six-light, Twelve, Fourteen and Sixteen in four and six-light styles. ‘Export only’ Twelve Tourer.
Prod: 1936-48
P3 Rover 60, 75. Prod: 1948-50
P4 ‘Cyclops’ 75, then 60, 75, 90, 105, 80, 100, 95, 110. Prod: 1949-64 Rover P4 80
P5 Three-Litre (first monocoque Rover). Prod: 1958-67
P5B 3.5 litre version of the P5 (saloon and coupé). Dev: 1965-67
Prod: 1967-73
Rover P5B
P6 2000, 2200 (base unit construction). Prod: 1963-77
P6B Three Thousand Five – 3.5 litre version of P6. Prod: 1966-76
P6BS Mid-engined sports car Porsche eater – development version. Dev: 1965-68 Rover P6 BS profile
P7 Five, six and V6 cylinder versions of P6 used in P8 development programme – never intended for production. Dev: 1962-74
P8 3.5, 4.0 and 4.4 litre versions of the P5 replacement. Axed by British Leyland at the point of going into production. Dev: 1963-71
P9 Productionised version of the P6BS. Dev: 1968-70 Rover P9
P10 Rover P10 became known as the RT-1 and then SD1. Dev: 1969-71 Rover P10 proposal

Rover Triumph

Code Details Dates Picture
SD1 Rover 3500
SD stands for Specialist Division
Dev: 1970-76
Prod: 1976-86
SD2 Triumph Dolomite replacement
Solihull designed five-door hatchback, using 1.5 and 2-litre Triumph engines. Merged with the ADO77 project in 1975.
Dev: 1971-75
SD3 Rover 213/216
Little-known code applied retrospectively by Engineers for the range that replaced the Triumph Acclaim. Apparently, Honda had it in mind to use the code SD2, until it was pointed out that that one had already been taken (see above)…
Dev: 1982-84 Rover 213 (1984)
SD5 Land-Rover replacement
A proposed replacement for the traditional Land Rover…
Dev: 1972-1974
Bravo Rover SD1 reskin
Late 1970s proposal to relaunch the SD1 with new bodywork, in both four- and five-door forms. Plan was abandoned in favour of Project XX (Rover 800).
Dev: 1979-80

Austin Morris

Code Details Dates Picture
AM2 Metro saloon
The three-box Metro was touted for production from 1981/’82, but would end up being dropped in favour of the five-door version, which was introduced in 1984.
Dev: Late 1970s
AM2X Montego
Called this in the lead-up to the creation of Austin Rover Group, when it was rechristened the LM11.
Dev: Late 1970s


Code Details Dates Picture
TM1 Triumph-Morris family saloon
Short-lived replacement for the Triumph SD2, encompassing both the replacement for the Dolomite and the Marina. Was dropped in favour of the front-wheel-drive LC10 project.
Dev: 1975


Code Details Dates Picture
Bullet Sports car
Front-engined, rear-wheel-drive, targa top, two-seater sports car developed to replace the TR6 and GT6. Developed and federalised to produce the Triumph TR7.
Dev: 1969-70 The Harris Mann-led Longbridge design team's effort was chosen over Triumph's more conservative scheme...
Lynx Sports car projects
Michelotti-styled coupe version of the Bullet. Dev: 1969-71 Triumph Lynx scale model
Coupe version of the TR7/TR8 – failed to become production reality due to production interruption at Speke. Dev: 1973-77 Triumph Lynx
Puma Executive car
Triumph replacement for the 2000/2500 models – was cancelled in favour of the Rover proposal, the Canley and Solihull teams joined forces and the joint replacement car became the SD1.
Dev: 1967-71
Keith Adams


  1. What a fantastic run of information. P6BS looked like an intersting vehicle. Never thought about or seen a Landcrab pickup. Brilliant. Keep the good work and the information coming.

    Dave B

  2. “Did the original Range Rover have a ‘P’ code?”
    No, it was simply known as the “100-inch Station Wagon”, referred to as “Road Rover” and designated “Velar” when the pilot run cars were sent out for testing.
    The second generation Range Rover’s P designation is an interesting one: P38. All sorts of speculation as to what it stood for, but the answer is quite unremarkable – it was the number of the Office in which it was designed!

    • P38A actually – was variously Discovery and Pegasus before that. Pegasus was compromised by a supplier so the name was changed. CB40 (Freelander) followed the convention derived from the Canley location of the project office.

      • I believe that ADO stood for AMALGAMATED Design Office and was an attempt to bring the Morris and Austin engineering organisations together, Morris people tended to see it as a takeover, partially because more of the engineering disciplines were located at Longbridge and Cowley was only given the lead on Body in White production design and development. In realty Austin was financially a lot stronger at the time of the merger and was able to dictate terms.

        • Belatedly – no ADO did not stand for Amalgamated Design Office – WikiPedia is wrong and in fact the source it cites contradicts what is written on the Wiki page – as of this moment, anyway.

    • I believe Road Rover was another, earlier project. It was the ‘100-Inch Station Wagon’. ‘Velar’ was an artificial company set up by Rover so that prototypes were registered in another part of the country. The best explanation for the name was that it was derived from the Italian for ‘hidden’. If the P6BS went ahead, it was to have been badged as an Alvis and would also have worn Velar badging when prototypes took to the road.

    • No it wasn’t…..the P38 designation originated from a conflation of the MGA Developments code – Mustang – or, you’ve got it, P51….and Block 38 at Solihull, where the program management team were situated. Over the duration of the project, the names were conflated into P38.

      (MGA Developments were the primary contractors for the body design and engineering on the project.)

  3. There was a question raised recently on whether SD4 existed?

    Was it a cancelled project?
    An internal project?
    Engineering project?

  4. Re 5: That’s not quite correct. The origin of ‘P38’ is a little more complicated:

    1) The body engineering for ‘P38’ was contracted out to MGA Developments Ltd, of Coventry. MGA gave the project a code name – Mustang. This was very quickly abbreviated to ‘P51’.

    2) In parallel, the Land Rover program team at Solihull was housed in Block 38 (adjacent to the famous ‘jungle track’).

    3) Eventually the ‘P51’ and ‘Block 38’ references became blended in to ‘P38’.

    (I was a Senior Engineer on the MGA team.)

    • You are correct in saying that the programme team was in Block 38 but only part of it hence ’38A’. I was under the impression that the ‘P’ was simply for ‘Project’ as it was referred to as ‘Project 38A’ within Land Rover.

      • The project was in block 38A this is next to block 38 and right next to the ponds. I worked in here on 38A and T5. I do remember the biw concept brochures from MGA sign P51A Mustang on the cover.
        There was previous history P20 rover project was engineered in building 20 at Solihull. You would need to as John Hall for the definitive answer but it is not such a key point in automotive history.

  5. Very well researched information!
    I have seen other “ADO” lists and they have errors and omissions, yours is the best I have seen so far.
    Thanks for including the Australian “YD” codes, there is very little information about them elsewhere.
    Regards from Michael in Australia.
    P.S. Did the South African arm of BMC-Leyland have their own development codes?
    South Africa produced their own Wolseley 1000(ADO15)and Austin ADO16

  6. Great article. Am I right in thinking that on another AROnline page I read that ADO stood for Amalgamated Drawing Office though? After the merger between Morris and Austin?

        • And they’re wrong. I was a PSF body engineer….all our drawings had two part number boxes in the drawing title block….one was for our PSF part numbers….the other was for the Austin Drawing Office number.

          • Hello Kev,

            I’m wondering if you can help me plaese?

            I see from your post you were a PSF engineer. I own a classic Mini and require some information regarding Body Number Plate codes etc. in order to restore it correctly.

            If you could provide me with some information I’d be most grateful.

            Many thanks in anticipation.



          • Was it Austin Drawing Office or ADO? Other sources say AMALGAMATED, so unless there is a company official document we will never know for certain and plenty of Morris/PSF people felt it was an Austin takeover. Based on relative financial strength at the time and the fact that Leonard Lord had a grudge against Nuffield, there must have been some friction!

          • Kev is right. ADO = Austin Drawing Office. The Amalgamated Design Office story is bunkum.

  7. R9 (and possibly AR9) was a slightly larger ‘600-type’ vehicle based on R8 but with the 2.0 M-series engine. Unsurprisingly it was an expensive investment, especially when Syncho became a possibility.

    It morphed into R8 ‘Long Front End’ but some very clever packaging (and miniscule clearances) got the M-series to fit in the standard R8 engine bay with only a small bonnet bulge.

    Freelander was codenamed CB40, which was named after the building the engineering team were initially mainly based in – Canley, Building 40.

  8. Hi. Do you have any earlier Austin codes. Pre 1952 especially for the A70 hampshire range. Regards. Larry

  9. According to The BMC-Leyland Australia Heritage Group book “Building Cars in Australia – Morris, Austin, BMC and Leyland 1950-1975”, YDO13 WAS used – for the original version of the X6 Tasman Kimberley, YDO19 was for the Mark II version only.

  10. According to The BMC-Leyland Australia Heritage Group book “Building Cars in Australia – Morris, Austin, BMC and Leyland 1950-1975”, YDO10 was used for the AUSTIN 1800 MkI & MkII Utility and Cab/Chassis models. No mention of MORRIS 1800 Utility!

  11. I had a Rover Metro Isis. It was either a special or limited edition with sunroof. It does not seem to be listed, can anyone help? For instance what year/s was it made? I loved it.

    my whole family worked for BL, BMC, Nuffield & Rover although a girl I really enjoyed looking at all of these old models which I remember so well. My Father won a green Mini in a suggestion box competition in 1966/67 which my husband & I had in subsequent years. Great fun, my husband was 6ft 4ins & we went to Devon with a child & large Labrador , it was a bit of a squeeze.

    • If it was a Rover Metro and not a Rover 100, it would have been made between 1990 and 1994. There were a lot of marketing led special editions which were standard model and options with extra badging. It is unlikely to be identified from the VIN, but the ISIS name is quite unusual as that is a 1950s Morris nameplate and I worked at Rover in the 1990s and I never heard the name Isis except as a code name for the Rover 75 launched in 2000. It could be badging added after the models built, as that was how some of the special editions were created to add sales appeal!

  12. And the commercials like Sherpa? Did they have a development code as well, or did they just sort of happen into life?

  13. -Notes & Possible Amendments-

    – Images of the Austin-Healey 4000 (ADO24) exist online

    – ADO11 has been revealed to denote an experimental 2-cylinder based on the 948 A-Series

    – Was under the impression Barrel Car was later dusted off and became Project Ant during the ADO74 project as a Mini-sized proposal to the Supermini-sized Ladybird proposal?

    Also is it known why the Project Ant was projected to feature 750-950cc engines of yet unknown design, when only the 9X units same closest in proposed engine size displacing at 750-1000cc and were not seriously considered at the time with the H-Series being a dedicated 1000cc engine (as opposed to one capable of being reduced to 750 to replace the 850 A-Series)?

    – Would look to include Bobcat in the Triumph section as well as 10X in the BMC section

    – Read a comment within AROnline claiming AR5 and AR7 were linked to AR6, basically being part of a related family of platforms as an all-in-one replacement for the Metro, Maestro and SD3.

  14. From what I’ve read the 2 cylinder A-series produced too much vibration & other undesirable characteristics to be used. 474cc would have been a bit small even for a Mini.

    One potential model I’ve heard about but never seen mentioned here much of at all was the Match. I read somewhere it was supposed to be a reskinned Allegro, I presume with a hatchback, but I guess it was dropped in favour of the Maestro.

    • Have read claims the 2-cylinder A-Series was either unacceptably rough or ran well yet was considered too rough for a production car, although it is worth listening to Ivan Dunton running the engine in his videos.

      Get the impression much of the undesirable characteristics of the engine could have been resolved, yet time constraints ultimately led to the requirement of an existing engine already in production being used. Maybe slight enlargement would have made it more suitable for a Mini, similar to how ADO16 was originally intended to use the 948 engine before it was enlarged to 1098 for production as the former made the car underpowered (notwithstanding the 998 Austin de Luxe model).

      Reference to an Allegro re-skin can be found in History : British Leyland, the grand illusion – Part Four, as a proposed cheaper alternative to the LC range (with the new Mini/ADO88 retained) entailing a new car based on the mechanics of the Austin Allegro. Yet that does not make sense if what became the Maestro/Montego themselves used the Allegro as a starting point.

      Meanwhile the Maestro development story makes mention of an Allegro Four with two-tone paint that was one of a number of projects that were sacrificed to make way for the Maestro. Is it possible the proposed Allegro re-skin and Allegro Four were one and the same?

  15. Why are there so few Land Rover and Jaguar codes listed?
    Jay? Llama? Eagle?
    XJ27? XJ41/42? X308?
    Or is this an Austin Rover only website?

  16. Heard SK3 was essentially a shortened R8-based Metro replacement (that would link it to R7) and carried over much from the R8 as possible, with the R3 being developed from the remains of the SK3 project and made economically viable thanks to a change/redesign of the rear suspension (via a modified Maestro/Montego “H-Frame”).

    It explains the later part of the Rover R6X article where R7 helped eased the company’s way to SK3/R3.

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